There have been a few pieces about a man named Barney Miller on this website. The first was back in 2013, when Natalie Holtz penned a story about him. The second was just a few months ago, when60 Minutes did a piece on his relationship with Mick Fanning. Both are very moving.
In a nutshell, Barney Miller is paralyzed after a car accident. When he was 20-years-old, he was on his way to work when the car he was riding in hit a tree. A week later, Miller woke up in a hospital, completely paralyzed. Not able to move or even breathe, the outlook was bleak. Doctors told him he’d never walk again. He disagreed, and got to work proving them wrong.
A few years later, Miller ran into Mick Fanning at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. They started up a conversation that soon blossomed into a friendship; it would become one that would inspire both men for years to come. Miller was in a wheelchair, but determined to walk again, and Fanning’s words of encouragement were a much-needed inspiration. Since then, it’s turned into a two-way street.
A few days ago, a film called You and Me debuted at the Pacific Fair Event Cinema, and Fanning was there among the crowd to watch. It follows Miller’s battle to return to a normal life after his accident, along with the incredible romance with his wife, Kate. It also looks into his friendship with Fanning.“To see where Barney came from, he could barely sit in the chair half the time,” said the three time world champion, “and to see him actually stand and he was marching around this room in this machine and he was the one who was doing it, was just mind-blowing.”
The story of Miller’s accident is a scary one. After hitting a tree at 120 kmh, doctors not only told him he’d never walk again, they told him he’d never even be able to breathe on his own. Miller wasn’t a sit-around-the-house kind of guy, either. As an avid surfer and a white-water rafting guide, he didn’t take the news sitting down, as it were. After years of painful rehab, the once-paralyzed Miller can not only breathe on his own, he can stand. And of course, with a little help from friends like Mick, he can surf.
Fanning said to reporters that the first time he watched the documentary about his friend, he “cried for a good hour and a half.” Now he’s cut it down to “about an hour ten, an hour twenty.”